|Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Dsw4 | Public Domain|
The Panthers are now just one win away from its first ever Super Bowl championship after obliterating the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship on Sunday night. Given the way Carolina played in the game, the point spread could have been even greater. This was the most complete game of the season for the Panthers as each member of the team stepped up in a big way, excelling in all three facets of the game. It's really difficult to defeat a team that's excelling in all three facets of the game. Carolina will now face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on February 7.
Many people have said Panthers fans are bandwagoners. Well, not this fan. Let me tell you a little bit about my Panthers journey. I was born and raised in North Carolina. The moment I began watching the NFL, I liked no other team but Carolina. I guess my love for the team really cranked up during its '03-'04 Super Bowl run. I was 10 years old then and remember watching the game at my grandma's house. I also remember getting my heart broken when the New England Patriots won the game on a last-second field goal. Adam Vinatieri, ugh! That is, coincidentally, when my disdain for the Patriots began.
It's hard to believe that Super Bowl was 12 years ago, and I've stuck right with the Panthers ever since. I remember players like Jake Delhomme, John Kasay, Mike Minter, Mushin Muhammad, Julius Peppers and Ricky Proehl. No matter how good or bad of a season Carolina had, I watched every game - even during that dismal, 2-14 campaign in 2010. In all honesty, I wasn't sure about coach Ron Rivera and the team. In fact, I was one of many who wanted Rivera gone after a couple of meh seasons at the helm. Man, was I ever wrong. Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson, and GM, Dave Gettleman, trusted Rivera and I'm glad they did. I heard just today on ESPN that consistency is key in the NFL. Some NFL clubs have gone through a plethora of coaches throughout the course of several seasons. The Panthers front office leadership trusted the system and look at the results.
This has been 12 years in the making and I'm proud to have been a part of it. I want nothing more than to see the Carolina Panthers' championship aspirations come to fruition.